Originally published in 1938 for 10 cents, “Action Comics No. 1” is widely considered the Holy Grail of comic books.
It was sold Monday from a private seller to a private buyer, a transaction conducted by the auction site ComicConnect.com. Stephen Fishler, co-owner of the site and its sister dealership, Metropolis Collectibles, orchestrated the sale.
Fishler said it transpired minutes after the issue was put on sale at around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time (1530 GMT). He said that the seller was a “well known individual” in New York with a pedigree collection, and that the buyer was a known customer who previously bought an Action Comics No. 1 of lesser grade.
“It’s considered by most people as the most important book,” said John Dolmayan, a comic book enthusiast and dealer best known as the drummer for System of a Down. “It kind of ushered in the age of the superheroes.”
Dolmayan, who owns Torpedo Comics, last year paid $317,000 for an Action Comics No. 1 issue for a client. Others have sold for more than $400,000, he said, but this copy fetched a much higher price because it’s in better condition. It’s rated an “8.0 grade,” or “very fine.”
Dolmayan said he didn’t buy this copy but he wishes he could have.
“The fact that this book is completely un-restored and still has an 8.0 grade, it’s kind of like a diamond or a precious stone. It’s very rare,” he said.
There are only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 believed to be in existence, and only a handful have been rated so highly. It’s rarer still for those copies to be made available for sale.
“The opportunity to buy an un-restored, high-grade Action One comes along once every two decades,” Fishler said. “It’s certainly a milestone.”
The sticker shock was astounding to Fishler, nevertheless.
“It is still a little stunning to see ‘a comic book’ and ‘$1 million’ in the same sentence,” Fishler said. “There’s only one time a collectible hits the $1 million threshold.”